Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Hi everyone!

I'm back! I hope you all had a great summer. I can't believe it's time for another season already.

As you may already know, I'm paired with Brandy this season. I'm very happy to have been partnered with her. I think there's a lot of pressure on use to do well because she's an entertainer, but just like last season, we're taking it one week at a time.

So far, we've just done one rehearsal. Our first dance is the Viennese waltz and our second is going to be the cha-cha, I think. We've got three weeks until the premiere and everybody has a different strategy, of course. Mine is to get ready for the first dance. The first week is the hardest for everyone. That first Monday — it's all shock for the celebrities and they go, "Wow, now I get it." But eventually they get used to the whole process, and every week you start again from scratch. The first two weeks determine who's the worst, for the lack of a better word, and by Week four or five, people start to pull away. I think last season, we stayed under the radar and the fans carried us through. Hopefully we'll have great fans pulling for us this season.

Brandy is quite a personality. She is hilarious! We get along really well and are having a lot of fun. She's very free and very willing to experiment. She's not afraid to experiment even though she appears to be a bit of scaredy-cat. She's a perfectionist, but she's a fun perfectionist. She's not one who drills herself. She can laugh at herself and . definitely has natural potential and talent. I'll be honest: When I found out I got Brandy, my immediate thought was, "Please let her have some dance experience!" Why? I felt like the off-season went by in a week! It's crazy. I've just been flying around the whole summer with a lot of projects in the works — just super busy. For me, this summer, I spent it on a plane. I still feel the aches from last season. It's crazy. To me, the show just finished. Now we're back in it, so it's kind of funny. It would help if Brandy if had been an amazing dancer. But she's not — and obviously I don't mean that in a bad way. Her strength, though, is definitely her personality. I think I just need to be able to package her and present her to the viewers and we're going to be good. I'm still trying to get myself in the right mindset. Last season was very difficult because there were weeks where, toward the end, I did nothing but Dancing with the Stars. It was literally just rehearse, eat, sleep, eat, rehearse. It gets a little crazy after a while because you feel like you're missing out on life. But then you realize this is what life is!

The cast this season is very eclectic. I think there a re a lot of people who have potential. I think Jennifer Grey is a dancer at heart. I haven't seen anyone take a step, so I don't know her level of experience, but I think she's in great shape. I think Audrina is someone who can pull away. She has Tony, who's very excited to work with her. I think there are a few from the men's side who can be good. Kurt Warner and Rick Fox — they know what it's like to do something over and over again being athletes. I think Michael Bolton will know how to put on a performance. Of course, I don't know how limber he is. I think this cast is more even than in some seasons past.

I don't really have a different approach this season. We've been doing this for so long that it's like second nature now. It's been four years for me. There's not much I can change about myself. I think I have become a better teacher over the seasons. There's a different side to me people see more regularly now as opposed to before because I was too much into my own head. I didn't know how to let certain emotions out. Now, I'm more comfortable in front of the cameras.

Everything else is going well. I choreographed a new number for La Reve over the summer. We got a new piece of music and I knew I had to do something for it. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well. It's a rewarding job. It's something anybody in my position would die to do. It's an absolutely amazing atmosphere. The whole production is on a completely different level than any show, and the Wynn is incredible. It's a home away from home. It's something that I take a lot of pride in. My studios are also doing very well. We're eyeing five locations as we're trying to expand inland — maybe Viriginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. We're hoping to open some up there and slowly move west. We're working on opening one in Las Vegas.

I redid my website and dancewithmeusa.com, so please check them out if you have time. I started my YouTube channel and we're uploading new videos from certain events. Keep an eye out for the next video because it's from a family barbecue and there's a lot of silliness.

Speaking of family, Sleep is a big boy now! He's 50 pounds! He's adorable. I miss him a lot though because he's back home. It's too much of a hassle to fly him out to L.A. You have to fit him into the bag that he's too big for. Then when you fit him in, you can't lift the bag! Plus, I would never want to traumatize him with the flying regulations. He's home and he's happy. My parents are taking care of him. Val is here preparing for the U.S. Open this week, so he's watching him too. Everything is great. Everybody is busy. We're very grateful about the opportunities we get. If you give us a chance, the second we get the chance, we'll do it. Our motto is: We never fail. It's not an evil thing. We just don't leave room for failure. We have to do it all the way and we have to be successful at it. That's what's we're doing. We have our bar raised.

One last thing I want to mention for the first and last time: romance rumors. There was a lot of stuff last season about Erin and me, and I already see stuff this season and the cast was just announced! I just want everyone to know that there's absolutely no way that anybody will get me to talk about anything about my personal life. I think our fans are amazing. I've had incredible support in the tough times and I try to give back with what I do on the dance floor. I love our extended family, but there are certain things that one must keep to themselves. I put out a lot out there — I know that — but everyone has a right to a personal life. One thing I promise is that like last season, I'm very focused on dancing, getting Brandy into the final and getting the trophy. She's very talented and very capable of winning. We're going to give our best. I just want everyone to understand that they will never get an answer from me or her or anyone else now or even in the next three years, God-willing, if we're still doing this. But I want you to know that I'm not blind and I do see the rumors, but I'm not going to address them. And I'm saying that with a smile on my face.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading. See you next week!

Maks